China is the world's largest beer market with over 500 breweries straining to slake the thirst of a billion potential imbibers. With production surpassing the 50 billion liter per year mark in 2011 – double that of the USA – one might expect at least a little variety among the flood. We're glad to state that this is indeed so, and our countdown of China's 8 coolest beers proves it.
Brewed by Shanghai Asia Pacific Brewery Co LTD., REEB is distributed mainly in the Shanghai area and boasts a 3.6 percent alcohol content... nothing to boast about, really. What REEB does have going for it is its name, which if you haven't figured out already is BEER spelled backwards. (Chinese beer image via Caibingok1974)
7) China Pabst Blue Ribbon 1844
This is not the Pabst Blue Ribbon you hipsters have been looking for: China Pabst Blue Ribbon is produced by Zhaoqing Brewery in China's southern Guangdong province under a sub-licensing agreement with the original official Pabst Brewing Company.
Zhaoqing Brewery is also taking the Pabst brand into previously uncharted waters by positioning it as a luxury brand – their “1844” beer is priced at around $45 per bottle. Gulp! (Chinese beer image via Chenger)
ANTARKTIK is a specialty beer from REEB, though inexplicably it's not named KITKRATNA. The brew's main claim to fame is that it's made with ice sourced & shipped from the frozen snowfields of the 7th continent. All things considered, one would hope this particular beer doesn't become too popular. (Chinese beer image via Ryan McFarland)
5) Sinkiang Black Beer
Xinjiang province is China's version of the Wild West, nuclear testing grounds included. The land is high, wide and dry... unless you've got a case or two of Sinkiang Black Beer (from Xin Jiang Wusu Breweries Co., Ltd.) squirreled away for a special occasion and by special, we mean ANY.
When you're looking to wash down that third helping of spit-roasted spicy skewered lamb, look no further than Sinkiang Black Beer. (Chinese beer image via Shanghaiist)
4) Snow Beer
Frank Zappa may have advised all and sundry to “watch out where the huskies go, and don't you eat that yellow snow” but he didn't say anything about DRINKING it, now did he?
In any event, hundreds of millions of Chinese obviously aren't Zappa fans because Snow Beer (brewed by CR Snow, a joint venture between SABMiller and China Resources Enterprises) knocked off Bud Light to become the world's top selling beer brand in 2009. (Chinese beer image via NiPic)
3) Tibet Green Barley Beer
“Tibet Green Barley Beer is a wonderful integration of heaven, earth and human beings,” according to official marketer Guangdong Dragonrise World Trade Development Co., Ltd.'s official copy but don't hold that against it: the name's Tibet Green, not Soylent Green.
Though made from highland barley and high-quality natural purified mineral water tapped at over 4,000m above sea level, this beer WON'T get you high. (Chinese beer image via DWT)
2) Pabst Blue Ribbon WW2 Edition
China Pabst Blue Ribbon has been more than happy to exploit their American connection but commemorating the US Army's victory in World War II? Priceless!
First appearing on Chinese (and ONLY Chinese) store shelves in 2009, the cans feature bold military-style graphics and English text reading “World War Two Edition in memory of US Army” and “Yes We Can!” Thanks, Obama. (Chinese beer image via BrandChannel)
1) Tsingtao Beer in Bags
Internationally famed Tsingtao Beer traces its ancestry back to 1903 when the first brewery opened in what was then the Kiautschou Bay concession, one of Imperial Germany's few colonies. The Germans are long gone (they were, ahem, evicted by a joint Japanese and British expeditionary force in 1914) and their old stomping & brewing ground is now known as Qingdao.
Today's Tsingtao Beer may not be cool in and of itself but a common method of buying it locally sure is: street vendors sell beer “loose” in plastic bags... sort of like water balloons for adults though these are for throwing down, not throwing at someone. (Chinese beer image via Justin's Brew Review)
Beer: is there anything it can't do, even in China? As you're pondering, feel free to crack open a cold one from our lagar list above but be advised... you'll probably be thirsty again an hour later. (Chinese beer images via CreativeRoots/Jarrod Barretto, top, and Articles and Texticles, above)